The move to Tennessee is complete: "The Giants used to be my team, but now it's the Titans." / Robert Deutsch for USA WEEKEND
At the movies: Kidman earned a Golden Globe nomination for best actress in a drama for her role as a bereft mother in Rabbit Hole. / Jojo Whilden
Nicole Kidman is a study in contrasts. She is at once Hollywood royalty, comfortable chatting over tea at Manhattan's swanky Peninsula hotel; an Oscar-winning actress known for her searing performances, including her latest in Rabbit Hole; and an all-American girl, happily settled into her life as wife and mommy on a farm in rural Tennessee.
Did we say American?
Indeed. The statuesque, strawberry-blond actress with the Australian accent was, in fact, born in Hawaii and lived in Washington, D.C., before she was whisked by her Australian parents to Sydney, where she was raised ó but didn't stay. Kidman, 43, has long split her time between Australia, New York and Hollywood. More recently, her husband, country singer and fellow Aussie Keith Urban, helped Kidman plant her Nashville roots.
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"It's the warmest, loveliest community I've ever set foot in," Kidman says. "For me, it's the perfect place to live. To me it's the best part of America."
For the moment, however, Kidman is in New York to promote Rabbit Hole, for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination for her role as the grieving mother of a 4-year-old boy who is killed in a freak car crash. The movie opens nationwide next weekend.
Having sneaked out while her daughter Sunday Rose, 2, has gone down for a nap, Kidman arrives without an entourage, clad in slacks, tan turtleneck sweater and black flat lace-up shoes. Her red locks are loosely braided into a single plait, and there's only a touch of makeup on her face. And while she warns that she has already eaten, after a girls' lunch with Sunday, Kidman gleefully and a little abashedly digs into a pizza.
Family is on the actress's mind.
"We used to never be separated for more than two weeks," she explains of her arrangement with her country-music-star spouse, who has tagged along for the trip to New York. "We reduced that to never more than six days. Now we're down to never separated for more than three days." She gamely adds, with a signature laugh that is goofy, almost a full-body chuckle, "which is a good sign."
Kidman and Urban met in 2005 and were married a year and a half later. Shortly after their wedding, Urban checked into rehab. Three months later when he resurfaced, Urban publicly praised Kidman for her support, explaining that it saved their marriage. Since that bumpy start, the two seem to have found their rhythm, adjusting as necessary.
Kidman talks about how different it is forher raising Sunday than it was when she was in her 20s with two young children (Isabella, now 18, and Connor, 15, live with her first husband, Tom Cruise). Back then, she loved to travel and thought nothing of hitting the road with her husband and kids. Not so much anymore.
"We're much more homebodies,"she says. "To go and do it again in your 40s ó you go, 'Here we go again.' I don't want to travel as much."
As Kidman's career revs up again, she seems determined to leave the thick of Hollywood for a quieter life in Tennessee. Kidman, Urban and their daughter live just outside Nashville on a 40-acre farm with deer, wild turkeys and, as the actress told Conan O'Brien, alpacas they walk on a leash.
By her own admission, her Southern life is shockingly low-key. She takes her daughter to school. She shops at the area Whole Foods and Target. She gardens. She gets coffee. And she goes to mommy-and-me classes with Sunday, who's learning Spanish.
"It's the easiest place to live," Kidman says. "Keith's lived there for 20 years. The country music community is very tight. I like the South. I like that it's slower. I like the polite nature of it. No traffic. I'm a big Southern girl now. It just suits me."
The longtime football fan even switched allegiances to her local team.
"The Giants used to be my team, but now it's the Titans," she says. "We go to games. Sunday is not that interested now, but she will be. She'll be wearing her little Titans jersey."
In the meantime, little Sunday does seem to represent the blend of Southern and Down Under the actress has created. "She's a hybrid because she can say 'ya'll' and 'g'day, mate.' She's got a Southern accent." An amalgam, just like Mommy.